A new generation of internet service providers is poised to bring broadband to more Americans, while also providing consumers with access to entertainment and services they don’t get from traditional cable television and telephone service.
The Next-Generation Internet Service Providers (NGSPs) — a group of publicly traded companies — include CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Time Warner Cable.
The groups are hoping to compete for consumers’ dollars by offering services that are cheaper and more reliable than their competitors.
And with billions of dollars in investment to build infrastructure, and a network of more than 5,000 miles of fiber-optic lines, the NGSPs expect their products to provide consumers with high-speed Internet access at prices comparable to traditional cable or satellite television service.
“Today, people have access to internet from anywhere in the world.
They can access it anytime, anywhere,” said Marc Lasry, president and chief executive officer of the NPSP.
“But the future of the internet is going to be based on what the technology is.”
In the United States, the most popular provider of broadband Internet is CenturyLink.
According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Federal Communications Commission, broadband usage grew by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013, while average speeds in some cities shot up by more than 70 percent.
The FCC’s data show that between 2009-2014, the average American family had access to about 3,200 megabits per second (Mbps), compared to about 1,600 Mbps in the United Kingdom, where more than 80 percent of households had access.
The broadband rate was almost 10 times the rate of the average household in the U, Canada, Mexico, India, and South Africa, the report showed.
The fastest speeds in the US were available in Kansas City, Kansas, with speeds of about 20 Mbps, and Boulder, Colorado, with a download speed of almost 80 Mbps.
CenturyLink’s Internet service was particularly fast in Kansas, the FCC report said.
“Kansas City, the home of the city of Kansas City and the capital of the state of Kansas, has a population of nearly 4 million and a population density of about 2,200 people per square mile,” the FCC said.
A CenturyLink spokeswoman said that the service was “fully competitive” with the next-generation competitors, and that CenturyLink and its NGSP partners are in discussions with “industry leaders to bring new technologies to the market in order to accelerate the deployment of the next generation of broadband and other high-performance Internet services.”
The NGSMs will compete for customers’ money with Charter Communications and Verizon Wireless.
Charter’s customers in Kansas have been able to access the company’s faster Internet speeds by paying $70 a month for a standard tier of service.
Verizon Wireless is offering a $90 package for people with a phone plan that includes 100 gigabytes of data per month, while Charter offers a $60 package with 200 gigabytes.
The NPSPs hope to compete with other providers by offering “flexible” prices.
They say they are also planning to offer higher speeds in underserved areas like remote rural areas, where DSL lines are slow.
“We want to be able to offer our customers more options and better value for their money,” Lasry said.
The biggest obstacle for consumers is getting access to their Internet service.
Lasry estimates that more than half of American households don’t have access or don’t use it at all.
The vast majority of those Americans live in cities, he said.
Centurylink’s data showed that a quarter of households have Internet service but only a third use it.
Lasy said CenturyLink has more than 4 million customers in more than 40 cities.
CenturyLite, the other group that is part of the Next-Gen Internet Services Provider (NGSP), is also in the process of expanding its services, Lasry added.
“When we started the company, we were just focused on what we thought was the most important thing,” Lasary said.
But “now we are in a position where we have to do something different, which is why we’re expanding our footprint.”
The next-gen internet service will be available to consumers in the coming years, he added.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), a trade group that represents cable and satellite companies, also expects to see “increased competition” between the next NGSOPs and their competitors in the next decade.
“NPSPs are going to have to find ways to compete on price, and we expect them to do so,” said Daniel Katz, senior vice president and general counsel of the NCTA.
Katz said the NCTAs current position on internet service is that consumers should pay more for broadband, but not more than their cable or phone providers.
Katz also said the NDSPs should not charge a premium for faster speeds.
He added that